Truth-seekers are vital
We need our health care providers to be truth-seekers; following our evolving health status to be sure therapies are really working, and changing our treatment plans when they don’t deliver the promised benefits.
We need our teachers to be truth-seekers so that they can provide students with the most up-to-date information and training.
We need our leaders to be truth-seeking so that they will study significant problems thoroughly, and act to resolve them in a timely way.
Which new ideas are true?
The number of new ideas a person hears in a single day is rapidly increasing. We are asked to passionately endorse New CLAIMS! Proposed FACTS! Common BELIEFS. The benefits are obvious: “We can learn more!” The downside is determining which of these ideas can be trusted to be reliable information versus baseless opinion or propaganda.
Truth-seekers must be brave and seek the most up to date information, even if that knowledge conflicts with their current point of view. I am using the word “truth” to mean ideas that have been evaluated in light of all available evidence. Ideas that are only claimed, proposed, or believed should be treated as “beliefs” or “opinions” until they have been evaluated with all available evidence.
When the stakes are high, decisions need to be based on ideas that have been evaluated, not just the ideas that sound attractive, potentially profitable, or even generous and honorable. By now, everyone should know that when the idea is connected to a high stakes outcome that considerable effort will have been taken to make it attractive to others.
Truth-seekers look beneath the attractive packaging and evaluate new ideas before embracing and propagating them, before liking, posting, and retweeting them. We are not doing that in adequate numbers. If we were, there would be fewer efforts by Congress to challenge the ‘oversight’ of the social media outlets.
Truth-seekers don’t want oversight or censorship. They want to be able to see and call out the posts that incite hate or violence. They want to be able to consider all claims for whether they represent ideas that should be heard–even when these ideas conflict with our cherished hopes and dreams, or the beliefs of our families and our tribes.
Ideas have context, and context is a key factor for a truth-seeker. Ideas like: “College freshmen have been denied a full college experience in 2020” or “We need to gather for the holidays” can only be evaluated in the context in which they are proposed. There will be contexts where ideas should be regarded as probably true, and others where those same ideas are definitely false. A truth-seeker would need to analyze the nuance and scope of a claim before embracing it as a certainty.
How much truth-seeking is enough? One interesting thing about humans is that they have a good nose for a controversy. If people are arguing about something, then there is probably a need for some additional truth-seeking about that issue. Most often, it is a common practice or a commonly held belief that is being challenged. Truth-seekers see this situation as a need for renewed consideration, not a time for digging in and insisting on their current point of view. It’s definitely a time for looking at WHY currently held beliefs and claims are not being rejected in favor of the claims being made by the opposition.
Truth-seekers are able to change their mind
But if you are a truth-seeker, you have definitely had the experience of changing your mind about some important issue when you discovered new relevant information.
Truth-seekers courageously follow reason and evidence wherever they lead. When necessary, truth-seekers reformulate their point of view, incorporating their new knowledge. They see this behavior as one of their best attributes.
Changing one’s point of view can be extremely difficult because others may view this as being weak-minded, or a betrayal of expectations. But truth-seekers regard the retention of baseless beliefs as lacking honesty and the courage to grow in the direction of better knowledge. Truth-seekers are at their best when they use a wide range of fair-minded communication styles, ones that encourage a patient exchange of ideas and ones that use evidence to aggressively call out false claims.
Truth-seeking is a habit of mind
New ideas and bold proclamations are not automatically true. They are ideas and proclamations that need to be evaluated in light of all available evidence. Humans have a long history of collaborating together to develop new knowledge. Truth-seekers know that other truth-seekers will have their backs.
Fact-based wishful thinking never gets the job done
Decision and reasoning abilities are best served when decision-makers are truth-seekers.
Strong critical thinkers decide what to believe and what to do using the best knowledge they can acquire by being vigilant and brave truth-seekers.
Strong critical thinkers are truth-seeking, open-minded, analytical, systematic, confident in reasoning, inquisitive and judicious.
These seven key mindset attributes are measurable
Insight Assessment offers the world’s leading tools for measuring critical thinking habits of mind. The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) assesses the habits of mind of adults and college level students. INSIGHT business tools measure the important thinking mental disciplines that support strong decision making in the workplace. EDUCATE INSIGHT Thinking Mindset series provides calibrated metrics for K-12 students. All these Insight Assessment test instruments report on both individual and group strengths as well as areas for improvement.
Contact us to learn more about the how you can use Insight Assessment validated research-based test instruments to assess and develop critical thinking skills and mindset attributes in your organization.
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Dr. Noreen Facione, CEO of Insight Assessment since 2007, has led company expansion to a global provider of critical thinking assessments for the Business, Health Sciences, Education, Legal and Defense sectors. Under Dr. Facione’s leadership, Insight Assessment maintains valid and reliable, technologically secure, assessment and training capability, responsive to the needs of the client. This standard is possible because of the exceptional team that is Insight Assessment.
For Dr. Facione, the company’s commitment to improving critical thinking worldwide is a challenge worth tireless effort. “Analyzing problems, making high-stakes decisions, managing risks, having innovative ideas, all of these depend on strength in critical thinking skills and mindset. We need all of these to be healthy people, and to have happy families, successful businesses and stable governments, worldwide.
As a decision scientist and psychometrician at the University of California San Francisco, Dr. Facione described how strength in decision-making influenced symptom interpretation, care-seeking behavior and, as a result, earlier cancer detection. Links between reasoning skills and mindset attributes led to the development of assessments targeting the habits of mind needed for strength in critical thinking.
Insight Assessment was founded to make reasoning skills and mindset assessments available to independent scholars and educators engaged in the training and assessment of critical thinking. Over the years, Dr. Facione and the other research professionals at Insight Assessment, have worked with thousands of educators, government leaders, and corporate executives to help them design and carry out initiatives to improve reasoning and problem-solving in their organizations, agencies and classrooms. Her published books and training materials include: Critical Thinking and Clinical Reasoning in the Health Sciences; Thinking and Reasoning in Human Decision Making; and the INSIGHT Development Program.